SYDNEY (AFP) - American socialite Paris Hilton has declared herself a saviour who shops for the greater good in tight economic times. In Sydney to host an exclusive New Year's dance party, the 27-year-old heir to the Hilton hotel fortune this week drew criticism for spending 5,560 Australian dollars (3,844 US dollars) in a 40-minute shopping spree. Local charities accused her of callous excess but Hilton Wednesday defended the splurge. "I'm in Australia, I think it's important to help out, you know, the economy out here, everywhere in the world," she told reporters, ahead of her New Year engagement. "And what's wrong with doing a little shopping? It's New Year's, I need a New Year's dress." Acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard, questioned during a news conference Tuesday about Hilton's shopping spree, commended the socialite for recognising Australia's attraction as a fashion and shopping destination. "I heard that a politician said that," Hilton said. "I thought that was very sweet and it's true." Hilton will be paid 100,000 Australian dollars by the party's promoters for her Sydney appearance, promising a number of costume changes ahead of midnight.